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Strategies for Improving Memory

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 2001 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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‘Strategies for Improving Memory’

This literature review will be aiming to review three papers looking at the area of mnemonics. Memory is a key component in being able to learn new things and hold new information. By learning new things and gaining a broader knowledge of information it can help a person in the future to carry out tasks. For example, when produced with a problem, with stored knowledge we can recall information from the memory to help us solve the problem. There are two types of memory that we hold, these are known as, Short term memory (STM), and Long – term memory (LTM).

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Short term memory is where we can temporarily hold a small amount of information, on the multi store model it is the second stage, Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968) said that humans could hold between 7 – 9 digits in our short – term memory. (R.C Atkinson, & R.M Shiffrin, 1971). Limited Capacity, Limited Duration and Encoding are three aspects within Short – term memory.  Long – term memory is where we have the capacity to hold information for an infinite amount of time; elaborative rehearsal is key in making this happen. Long – term memory is the last stage in the Atkinson and Shiffrin model (1968). In Long – term memory there are three types, these are known as, Procedural, Semantic and Episodic.

Mnemonics are strategies to help remember complex information in an easier way. Mnemonics can be a way to improve a person’s memory so in the future they can store and recall more difficult information.

The articles that will be reviewed are all related to the area of mnemonics in order to improve memory. These articles will all look at mnemonics but in different areas, such as, Behavioural, Biological and How mnemonics can be applied.

The first article that looks at mnemonics in a behavioural area is due to the researchers looking at the end result. The article is on ‘Psychology student’s knowledge and use of mnemonics’. (McCabe, Osha, Roche & Susser, 2013)

The aim of this study is to gain a wider understanding on whether psychology students have a good knowledge about mnemonics and what their use of mnemonics is like. The researchers wanted to explore if these students would present accurate metacognitive awareness of mnemonics, or they will look at if these students have a poor knowledge of mnemonics and they are unable to give the strategy of mnemonics a good rating in working well to improve memory.  (McCabe, Osha, Roche & Susser, 2013, p.184) To carry out this study and try to meet their aim, the researchers gave participants a survey online which took 15 minutes, they were firstly given a consent form and then they were given the questions. On 5-point scale participants were asked numerous questions and asked to rate them using this scale. The participants used in this study were undergraduate students that had or were doing a minimum of one psychology course, the mean age was 22, and 76% were females and 24% were males. 31% had a major in psychology and 69% had a major in something other than psychology.

The findings from this study showed that 81.1% had some knowledge of mnemonics, but only a small amount was able to say the memory mechanisms that are used when working with mnemonics. The amount of use of mnemonics by psychology students showed they only sometimes use them when studying. The most familiar mnemonics was the acronyms and acrostics, this could be due to this type of mnemonics being the easiest to use, not requiring much effort. When given the nine different strategies, the students ranked the mnemonics as seventh, they found other strategies more useful. The most common source of mnemonics used were ones created by the students themselves.  The factor that pushed students to decide to use mnemonics was if their teacher used them in class. The topics in psychology that were rated as mnemonics being helpful to use when studying these were, biological and memory. In relation to correlation they found a lack of it, but they did see that the GPA of students and their familiarity had a positive correlation, and students who had studied courses more related to psychology were more familiar with mnemonics.

The quality of this article was good as it followed the traditional structure of how an article should be set out, making it easier to find relevant information. Due to their method being a survey, in their results under each question there were clear explanations of what they found. The article was clearly set out making the information accessible. The article showed good quality as in the end of the paper it was stated that in the future by improving student’s knowledge on mnemonics it would help widely spread mnemonics as a useful strategy to learn. (McCabe, Osha, Roche & Susser, 2013, p.189 – 190)

The second article looks at mnemonics in a biological area, this article is in more depth, it analyses what’s going on inside the brain. This article is called, ‘Mnemonic training reshapes brain networks to support superior memory’ (Dresler, Shirer, Konrad, Muller, Wagner, Fernandez, Czisch, and Greicius, 2017)

The aim of this study is to get a sample of memory athletes with mnemonics naïve controls and compare their fMRI functional connectivity (FC) patterns, before training and after training using loci. To reach this aim the method that was carried out was, cognitive training, here they were shown the strategy of loci, the training lasted 30mins a day, for 40 days and this took place at their homes. Another method used was, behavioural data acquisition. This is were participants were given two tasks, word encoding and recognition, these tasks were completed in a scanner. Once the tasks were completed, participants were asked when having the rs-fMRI were they, alert, partly tired, partly drowsy or partly asleep. The next method was, MRI data acquisition. This is where data got collected using imaging, participants data was collected with their eyes closed using rs-fMRI. This was then repeated after participants done the word encoding and recognition task. Lastly a Region of interest (ROI) selection was carried out. This is where 91 regions of the brain were being looked at, this covered around 14 of the major networks. (Dresler, et al, 2017, p.e1-e3)

The Participants involved were 23 memory athletes, nine were female and 14 were male. They were invited through email and phone calls. These were then compared to the control participants that had no experience in mnemonics, there were 51 control participants, which were all males. They were matched for age, sex, intelligence and handedness. These participants were gathered from gifted and academic students and individuals in high IQ societies.

The findings from this article found that superior memory is supported by large parts of the brain rather than specific regions, from their findings they understand that memory can be improved to the level of a memory athlete with mnemonic training, but when observing their behaviour they didn’t actually get quicker at the tasks.

The quality of this paper is not as good as the other two, this is because it is not set out the traditional way an article normally is. Before the article explains the method, they have provided their results. The method is provided after their references. This is unclear for people reading and makes the paper hard to understand.


The third article looks at mnemonics being applied. It looks at individuals that could really benefit from improved memory. The article is called, ‘Effectiveness of mnemonic instructions on the thinking strategies of children with learning disabilities’. (Jangid, Swadia, Sharma, 2016) The aim of this study is to understand if mnemonics is effective on Children with Leaning Disabilities thinking patterns. There were 30 participants involved, these were children with learning disabilities aged 9 up to 11. They were gathered from various institutes in the area of Gujarat. To help conduct the study were 5 of the children’s teachers. (Jangid, Swadia, Sharma, 2016, p.22-23)

To meet their aim the researchers set up two groups, one was an experimental which consisted of 20 participants and the other was the control group which consisted of 10 participants. The 5 teachers were then provided with ten days of training in mnemonics instructions, before they gave this treatment to the children, the researchers carried out an assessment on the children to look at their thinking patterns. The teachers when trained then provided one hour a day of this treatment to the experimental group of children. The control group were given normal teaching, the content taught to both groups were the same. This lasted for 3 months, once this time was over, all 30 children we given an assessment using tools done in the pre-assessment stage. (Jangid, Swadia, Sharma, 2016, p.24)

The findings from this study when evaluating test scores showed a large improvement, these children are slow learners, making it difficult for their academic skills to progress and improve. The mnemonics instructions showed to be a solution for this problem as it helped to enhance children with learning disabilities memory. Having mnemonic instructions helped the children with their gathering their information, processing it and then organizing it.

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Quality of this article is extremely good as it is clear, accessible and it is written in a format that a wide range of individuals could understand at a good level. The article is in the traditional format. The abstract not only summarises the study but summarises the method and the results. It’s a small article which isn’t time consuming to read. This paper is also good as it looks at the potential of what they think mnemonics can do in the future, they believe that slow learners will be able to have their thinking patterns enhanced using mnemonic instructions, and this is something they can work towards.

Overall these three papers methodology with very different, but they all similarly look at mnemonics in a positive way, showing that mnemonics support improving memory and improving individuals abilities.







Reference list

R. C. Atkinson and R. M. Shiffrin (1971) The Control processes of short – term memory (173) Stanford University, Stanford, California. Institute for Mathematical studies in the Social Sciences

McCabe, J. A., Osha, K. L., Roche, J. A., & Susser, J. A. (2013). Psychology Students’ Knowledge and Use of Mnemonics. Teaching of Psychology40(3), 183–192. 

Dresler, M, Shirer, W.R, Konrad, B.N, Muller, N.C.J, Wagner, I.C, Fernandez, G, Czisch, M, and Greicius, M.D (2017). Mnemonic training reshapes brain networks to support superior memory. Neuron, 93

Dresler, M, Shirer, W.R, Konrad, B.N, Muller, N.C.J, Wagner, I.C, Fernandez, G, Czisch, M, and Greicius, M.D (2017). Mnemonic training reshapes brain networks to support superior memory. Neuron, 93, P. e1 – e3

Jangid, N, Swadia, H, & Sharma, D. (2016). Effectiveness of Mnemonic Instructions on the Thinking Strategies of Children with Learning Disability. Journal of Disability Management and Rehabilitation, 2(1): 22-27



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